This personal genetics company has been providing people with reports on their risk of getting any number of serious diseases. Now 23andMe is adding type 2 diabetes — a condition that gets more attention for its link to lifestyle choices than genetics. In March the company announced that it built the test from genetic data from more than 2.5 million of its customers who agreed to participate. The test analyzes over 1,000 genetic variants and, when combined with a customer’s self-reported ethnicity and age, can provide his or her risk factor for developing the disease. The company says it did not need FDA approval for this test, but it did receive the green light earlier in the year for a genetic test on a hereditary colorectal cancer syndrome.
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The company claims it has more than 10 million customers worldwide, with more than 80% of them willing to share the results of their data to help further research for cures and treatments. There are two types of information consumers can purchase. For $99 they can receive information about their ancestry and where relatives once lived around the world. For $199 customers can receive that information as well as dozens of reports on their genetic health risks and wellness measures. The process is the same for both: Folks provide a sample of their saliva in a vial provided by the company and then send it back in the prepaid envelope.
In July, 23andMe (the name refers to the fact that human DNA is organized into 23 pairs of chromosomes) raised $300 million in a round led by GlaxoSmithKline. That brings its total funding to $786 million and its valuation to more than $2.5 billion. The company has faced some negative press lately. In April the New York Times reported that its test for the BRCA1/BRCA2 gene mutation for breast and ovarian cancer missed 90% of the mutation carriers. The company responded that it makes it clear that it is only testing for three of the most common mutations and not all of them.